Feeding People, Not Landfills, in Oceanside

As the City of Oceanside’s Environmental Officer, I have been working toward a zero waste community for the past 15 years. 

In 2015, I began to recognize how diverting food to feed people instead of landfills was key to meeting the City’s zero waste goals and broadening its sustainability actions. By participating—and eventually joining—leadership roles in the local food policy space, I could better understand and help shape state direction and policy on food systems and food recovery, by even just helping define the term in the SB 1383 regulation. 

In Oceanside, we are hard at work preparing for the implementation of SB 1383. However, our region faces significant challenges in accomplishing the goals and actions required by this unfunded mandate, since we lack much of the infrastructure or organics capacity needed to recycle organic waste, let alone perform food recovery within the current regulatory timeline. These issues have only been intensified by the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To support compliance with SB 1383 and the overall food system, jurisdictions and local stakeholders need to work now to prioritize efforts on policy building by marrying their SB 1383 action plans with their overall zero waste, community health and well-being, and climate action goals. Our efforts should ultimately guide us toward eliminating food waste and hunger from the system entirely, to promote full economic, social, and environmental sustainability in our communities. 

Aside from wanting to best serve my community, region, and state in focusing efforts to recover food, my passion for this crusade is also personal. As someone who has experienced food insecurity at various times in my life, I find this work to be a beautiful and inspiring nexus of social and environmental action that ensures we feed people, not landfills.

Colleen Foster is the City of Oceanside’s environmental officer, leading the solid waste & recylcing program, and Green Oceanside and Zero Waste initiatives. Colleen's leadership drives the City's progresssive zero waste policies and diversion goals, with a fosus on serving her community and addressing issues of food security.

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